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I lunged forward in my bed. I sat for a moment, attempting to gain control of my rapidly pounding heart. My lungs ached with the effort of my heavy breathing. The dream came to me again. Like a malicious poison it creeps into my mind and sends chills through my veins. I shook my head. I needed to stop thinking about it. I glanced at the clock. The green numbers glowed 4:13. There was no use trying to go back to sleep.
I stirred slowly to cool off the steaming tea. I sat for a while sipping tea and reading Lord of the Flies. When sunlight began to peek through the slit in the curtains, I set the book aside and marched upstairs. My sister lay sprawled across her bed with a teddy bear tucked under her arm. I waited for a moment and smiled.
“Wake up!” I ordered tossing a pillow at her. She mumbled something, but stayed motionless. I tugged at the curtains. Light poured over the half open closet, the crumpled clothes on the floor, and on my aggravated sister.
“It’s Saturday!” Joah wailed, wiping sleep from her eyes.
“Doesn’t matter. We’re going to the library,” I retorted. “And hurry up. Breakfast is in ten minutes.”
I combined peppers, onions, tomatoes, and eggs in a skillet. The house filled with the enticing aroma of vegetable omelets. Joah sprinted down the stairs.
“Mmm. Veggie omelets again, Sky?” She asked.
I didn’t need to answer. She had wolfed down an entire omelet before I had even touched mine.
“I’ll be right back.” I informed Joah.
I snatched a plate from the counter and trudged upstairs. I stopped at the last door and breathed deeply. I took a moment to adjust my eyes to the darkness. Clothing, food, and who-knows-what littered the floor. Bugs crawled up the blinds and buzzed around trash. An odor of diseased flesh and rotting food choked me. My eyes watered and my stomach turned.
On the bed sat a pitiful creature, sick and malnourished. Its greasy hair lay limp on its skull. Its putrid skin hung sallow and sickly on its frail frame. Black stones sunk into where its eyes should have been. It reeked of sweat and decaying tissue. It hardly looked alive.
“Hey, Mom. It’s me, Skylar.” I whispered, “I brought you an omelet.”
“You should eat it this time.” I added.
I stacked the plate with the other uneaten meals and turned to her.
“I love you.” croaked the creature.
The train jerked and shook. Joah clutched at her the seat in front of her.
“I hate the subway,” Joah whined, “Why do I have to go to work with you?”
“Because I can’t leave you alone and we need the money.” I answered.
We sat in silence, while the train rattled and bumped. I look out the window, observing the never-ending tunnel. The lights ahead traveled slowly, as if they’d never come. But the darkness that surrounded the train was always present.
“Why did Dad leave?” Joah asked quietly.
I stared at her blankly. The color drained out of my face. She repeated the question. The nightmare flashed in my mind. No car in the driveway. No clothes in the closet. And Mom rocking in the corner like a small child.
“I don’t know.” I breathed.
“I miss him.” She muttered.
“So do I.”